Marketing to Women: Pinterest and the Collegiate Shopper

September 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Here’s a first-hand account of Pinterest from guest blogger and Pinterest enthusiast Valerie Kuznik.  For those who are taking a wait-and-see approach to Pinterest, take note.  Shopping considerations are taking place on Pinterest boards before they happen in stores.

When my friends and I discuss a new purchase (or perhaps our plans to make one soon), the phase “I saw it on Pinterest” surfaces repeatedly. Despite marketing attempts to woo the 21-year-old woman with print ads in Glamour and other more conventional tactics, for the past year or so, Pinterest has been driving more purchases in a unique, round-about-way of which many retailers have only started to take note. In fact, according to Business Insider, almost 100 of the Internet’s top 250 retailers are not on Pinterest—a startling finding considering that the same source reports that Pinterest’s buying power is superior to that of Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. From my perspective as both an avid “pinner” and frequent online shopper, it seems as though the problem lies in the lack of understanding as to how the social media outlet Pinterest has anything to do with sales.

First and foremost, it’s crucial to understand what Pinterest is. As their website proclaims, it’s simply “a Virtual Pinboard” that “lets you organize and share all of the beautiful things you find on the web.” Whether it’s a recipe or photo of a house, users can “pin” the image to their own appropriately-categorized board for safe-keeping and future reference. Users can also peruse their followers’ pins, with the option to expand browsing (by category or “everything”) to the worldwide Pinterest community.

Despite a demanding work and class schedule, I use Pinterest on at least a daily basis, and I speak confidently when I say that the majority of my female peers would agree. Like most other collegiate girls, I have boards for recipes (“Eat it”), exercises (“Work it”), and crafts (“Create it”); but time after time, I find myself pinning to my shopping board, “Buy it.” And honestly, buying it is just what I do. I use my “buy it” board in two ways: sometimes, I will be browsing a retailer’s website (for example, Anthropologie) and “pin” items that I’d like to purchase in the future but am not quite yet ready to commit to. Other times, I will browse the “fashion” or “everything” category on Pinterest and repin items that others have pinned, for example a monogrammed necklace from Etsy.

It’s imperative to understand the value of these two acts in a marketing sense. Beginning with the first, in pinning an item from a retailer’s website to my board, it becomes visible to not only my group of followers, but also to the general Pinterest community. In effect, consumers become free advertisement without even realizing what they’re doing. The second activity, repinning items from Pinterest’s “feed” of existing pins, leads to awareness of a product (and often a purchase) that would never have occurred otherwise.  Most importantly, this pinning is seen as a sincere, unbiased, noncommercial act. Pinterest users don’t skeptically view pins, attempting to dissect the pinner’s hidden agenda. Instead, we skip over tops that won’t look flattering and repin a pair of incredible leather riding boots that caught our eye, clicking on the pin without a second thought– which happens to links us directly to the retailer’s page where we can order them.

The take-away is simple: if you’re goal is to sell to women 18-22, Pinterest is queen. It will help raise awareness of your product (small artisans on Etsy I’m sure would agree)—as long as the item is something that genuinely appeals to women in my age group. I’m no marketing expert, but I am a college-aged consumer with keen peer-observation skills (not to mention an intense online-shopping habit). If your business knows how to utilize Pinterest, my peers and I will be at your beck and call—without even realizing it.


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